Pimlico All-Stakes Pick 5 Analysis for May 14

Pimlico hosts a sensational 14-race card on Friday led by the G2 Black-Eyed Susan
Pimlico hosts a sensational 14-race card on Friday led by the G2 Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico features a mouth-watering All-Stakes Pick 5 with plenty of live longshots and a super-low 12% takeout. Breaking down the action is our in-house handicapper, who has provided detailed analysis of the sequence, as well as picks for the whole card.

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Race 9 (The Very One)

A fascinating All-Stakes Pick 5 with a tantalizingly low 12% takeout begins here with the The Very One for fillies and mares at five furlongs on turf. In my mind, Caravel (#3) is clearly the filly to beat as she makes her second start of the year following a solid 4-year-old debut in the License Fee on April 30 at Belmont Park. This filly showed a ton of ability last year as a sophomore, and I believe she’s come back in even better form considering the strength of the License Fee, in which she dueled through a swift opening quarter-mile and understandably weakened late to finish third. It’s also notable that she ran without Lasix in that spot, which she’ll again be treated with on Friday, and I think the cutback to five furlongs is going to work wonders for her.

Caravel is a formidable foe for the rest of this field to deal with, but I think Victory Kingdom (#6) may prove up to the challenge. It’s not the best sign that this 6-year-old mare has only one win on her ledger, however she’s run very well on a few occasions in North America and I think this trip is ideal for her. Her last race in the five-furlong Abundantia on the Gulfstream turf doesn’t look like anything special, but she was shuffled out of position early and bottled up along the inside for much of the race, then came with a deceptively strong finish once she got clear late. I love the jockey change to Flavien Prat, who is undoubtedly an elite rider, and I suspect this speedy mare is going to get a much better trip this time around. She should be a nice value-based complement to Caravel in the Pick 5.

Main:  3,6     Backup:  9,12

Order of preference:  6-3-9-12

Race 10 (G3 Miss Preakness)

It’s unclear if Inject (#7) is going to run in this spot since she’s cross-entered at Prairie Meadows on Saturday, but if she does I’m looking forward to taking a few shots against her, since despite what the morning line says she’d probably go off favored. Her last race at Keeneland, for which she earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure, makes her a standout on paper, however I have some doubts about the veracity of that number, and it may even be a moot point as this filly has been wildly erratic so far in her career. Whatever the case may be, I doubt she runs back to that effort as she’s forced to run without Lasix again.

Abrogate (#1) and Red Ghost (#2) are two more out-of-town invaders that look imposing on paper. While both can win, neither really does much for me since I don’t think they have much of an edge and are going to take significant money. Instead, I prefer a couple of local horses, chiefly Street Lute (#5), who I’ve tabbed the day’s ‘Most Likely Winner’ on this impossible Pimlico program. Street Lute’s speed figures don’t jump off the page at you, but consider that she’s won 7 of 9 races for trainer John Robb, who has continued his torrid run at this meet. I’m not concerned with her latest outing, an uncharacteristically dull third-place finish in the one-mile Beyond the Wire at Laurel Park, as it’s doubtful she wants to go that far, and I’m expecting her to rebound in a big way at this far more optimal distance. If bettors want to underestimate this filly because she’s beaten up on softer competition on this circuit then so be it; I don’t think much of this field as a whole and Street Lute is an absolute win machine.

The other local filly I’d take very seriously in the Miss Preakness is Paradise Song (#4). She improved rather suddenly in her last start at Laurel Park, where she handily beat optional claiming foes, but that effort has held up to scrutiny and I’m anticipating a similar effort from her.

Main:  5     Backup:  1,2,4

Order of preference:  5-4-1-2

Race 11 (Hilltop)

The Hilltop is easily one of the more confusing races on a card full of such handicapping puzzles. Your morning-line favorite is Bubbles On Ice (#5), who probably deserves to be following a successful American debut in the Memories of Silver on April 18 at Aqueduct Racetrack. It was by no means a ‘wow’ performance, but Bubbles On Ice got the job done over a Chad Brown-trained filly with some ability. She can certainly win right back, however she’s likely to be an underlay and there are others with potentially more upside.

One of the more obvious alternatives I came up with (at least according to the morning line) is the maiden Tracy Flick (#1). This filly did actually cross the finish line first in her debut on February 14 at Gulfstream Park, however she was disqualified and placed third that day. She then returned against maiden special weight company and missed by a nose on April 11 at Keeneland, nearly overcoming a slight inside-favoring bias on the turf to prevail. For typically conservative connections, it’s rather shocking that she bypasses both the maiden and allowance ranks to contest this race, and I think that can only be perceived as a strong vote of confidence. I like the addition of blinkers for her as it should help keep her focused down the lane, and I suspect she’s going to be dangerous in this spot.

Tracy Flick is an intriguing runner, but she’s not going to be a particularly big price, which is why I believe the real value in the Hilltop lies with Journeytothemoon (#9) and Speed Lane (#12). The former is a first-time turfer with ample pedigree for the surface. In fact, her connections tried to get her on turf in her debut, but she was a gate scratch on October 31 at Belmont. Although turf racing passed her by in 2020, she ran some promising races on the main track at Laurel Park, and it wouldn’t take much improvement on her end to be a real threat in this spot. Speed Lane, meanwhile, is coming off a better-than-it-looks victory at Keeneland for trainer Kelly Rubley, who historically fares much better on this circuit. Facing a decent group of maidens on April 18, Speed Lane was pinned down along the inside for much of the stretch run before angling out in the final eighth and closing strongly to win. That effort absolutely puts her in the mix, and I think it was an even stronger performance than the speed figure indicates.

Main:  1,5,9,12     Backup (priority):  3,6,8,10

Order of preference:  9-12-1-5

Race 12 (G3 Pimlico Special)

This eclectic edition of the once-mighty G3 Pimlico Special is led by trainer Todd Pletcher’s Fearless (#2). There are some things I don’t like about his last-out effort in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap, chiefly that he got a very good trip and most of the field was bunched together at the finish, but that was undeniably a tougher spot than this and I’m emboldened by the newfound early speed Fearless has shown this year. I don’t love the price, but ultimately Fearless is the only runner I have a high degree of confidence in here, and if he runs back to his latest outing at Oaklawn he should beat this field.

The most compelling alternative to Fearless is Cordmaker (#8), who in my opinion is the local contingent’s best hope. At one time in his career Cordmaker would’ve been among the favorites in this race, however he really struggled to find his footing in 2020 despite some decent results. He did get a very good trip last out in a stakes win at Laurel, but I’m hopeful it’s a sign this classy individual is rounding back into his best form. Even during his underwhelming 5-year-old campaign he was still able to finish a solid third in the Pimlico Special, so if he’s able to reclaim at least some of his former glory in this spot he should have a big chance at unseating the favorite.

Main:  2     Backup (priority):  8,11

Order of preference:  2-8-11-5

Race 13 (G2 Black-Eyed Susan)

I’m not going to beat around the bush, I love Army Wife (#1) in this subpar renewal of the G2 Black-Eyed Susan as she’s coming off a much better than it looks third in the G2 Gazelle on April 3 at Aqueduct. I didn’t think much of the Gazelle at the time, and in fact I thought speed figures from the race may even be artificially high, but I’m no longer of that opinion now that the winner Search Results came back to nearly take the G1 Kentucky Oaks, and even runner-up Maracuja acquitted herself well in the Oaks. Army Wife ran a tremendous race to be third in the Gazelle and she very easily could’ve finished second, if not threatened the winner considering the trouble she had. After breaking sharply and briefly leading the field heading into the clubhouse turn she was taken back to sit just off the early pace, which looked to be a great position until she was checked sharply in upper stretch at a critical point in the race. Undeterred by having her momentum stopped and losing several lengths, Army Wife stayed on strongly in the final eighth of a mile and was miraculously still able to hit the board. It’s almost incomprehensible to me that The Grass Is Blue (#8), who finished just behind her with a far easier trip, is a shorter price on the morning line, and I’m expecting Army Wife to be very tough here as one of the hottest riders in the country, Joel Rosario, takes the call.

The main danger to Army Wife is clearly Beautiful Gift (#10) for the under fire trainer Bob Baffert, however I don’t know that this filly is all she’s cracked up to be despite a couple of recent Beyer Speed Figures in the mid to high 80’s. The 3-year-old filly contingent on the West Coast was nothing short of dreadful this year, so I’m highly skeptical of those numbers, which were both achieved in four-horse fields. At a very short price I think she’s one to stay away from.

As far as backups go, I actually prefer Adventuring (#9). She’s had an interesting start to her career as the first three races of her life came in off-the-turf spots at Fair Grounds, while last out she was a convincing winner of the Bourbonette Oaks on the synthetic track at Turfway Park. It remains to be seen what her best surface is going to be, but she’s definitely taken to the main track and should have no trouble transitioning back to dirt for the ever-dangerous Brad Cox. Her prior races on the surface make her a legitimate player.

Main:  1     Backup:  7,9,10

Order of preference:  1-9-10-7

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